162 HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION were the keys, that the aspirations of the age found their most adequate expression. There the desire for beauty and truth and freedom, which had been largely repressed in the Middle Ages, found a real satisfaction, pending the creation of new spiritual media better adapted to modern needs. 2. HUMANISTIC EDUCATION IN ITALY The revival of learning which began with Petrarch in Italy in the Fourteenth Century made its influence felt in the sphere of education almost at once. Round the scholars who possessed manuscripts of the great classical works and had the knowledge and insight required for their interpretation, gathered groups of young Italians who had become conscious of themselves as the heirs of the spiritual heritage of the Roman Empire ; and in this way the Latin classics, and at a later time the Greek, became the common possession of educated men. The old universities like Bologna played little part in this movement. The chief centres of enlightenment were certain cities and courts where the chief men had a personal zeal for literary study or sought reputation for themselves by encouraging it in others. In this respect Florence, the city of the Medicis, stood pre- eminent. As early as 1348, when the passion for letters was still rare, its citizens established a university for the promotion of the new learning ; and there in 1396 Chrysoloras from Con- stantinople introduced the study of Greek, and brought a new element into the humanism of Western Europe. There again, in the days of the versatile and accomplished Lorenzo de Medici, in the latter half of the following century, arose the Platonic Academy which brought together men of learning after the manner of the famous Athenian schools, and aimed at the diffusion of a Christian Platonism. But though Florence took the lead, there were other sects of literary culture, like Padua and Venice, scarcely less considerable; and Academies on the same lines as that of Florence, though with somewhat different interests, flourished in Rome and in Naples. By such means the humanistic cult spread rapidly over Italy, and made its way into the life of the people in diverse forms, some of them frankly and extravagantly pagan.